San Francisco Leads Race to Host the Next America’s Cup.

The Defender of the America’s Cup has ended speculation about which US city might stage the next edition by announcing that San Francisco has been chosen as the preferred US candidate. The announcement positions the Californian city as a front runner in the race to hold the event, but the Defender is still considering venues outside the USA and will not make its final announcement about the venue until the end of 2010.

A statement issued by BMW ORACLE today says:

San Francisco has put forward a strong, well rounded venue proposal, and is now the only city in the USA under consideration to host the 34th America’s Cup match.

The announcement gives San Francisco an added level of security which will enable it to petition for investment from state and national sources. Despite being home to some of the country’s most wealthy corporations the city will seek public funds to build the infrastructure required for the event.

San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom said:

“We are very honored to lead a national effort to host the 34th America’s Cup. Larry Ellison has a transformative vision for hosting the Cup on San Francisco Bay, and we are prepared to leverage the nation’s support to make this a coast-to-coast campaign and to realize that vision.”

San Francisco beat other US candidate cities including Newport Rhode Island, San Diego and Long Beach. While Newport had history on its side, San Francisco seems to fit better with the ‘New Deal’ America’s Cup that BMW ORACLE are envisioning. San Francisco also has the ability to bring sailing to the city. Russell Coutts said:

“Our team has said from the outset that San Francisco and the Bay Area have the potential to provide a superb stage on which to host a memorable America’s Cup. Larry Ellison, has called the Bay ‘a fantastic natural amphitheatre’.”

It is hard to imagine a US based team not staging the America’s Cup in home waters. While Swiss based Alinghi were forced to hold the event outside of Switzerland due to the rules of the Deed of Gift, an American defender would have a hard job of selling a non-American venue to the US public. Were BMW ORACLE to choose a European venue – the long term impact on the sport of sailing in the USA would be significant.

Nevertheless, some European governments are more aggressive than the US when it comes to allocating public funds and doing deals to attract major sporting events like the America’s Cup. If a European city comes up with a deal like the one that lured the Volvo Ocean Race to Alicante, then the Defender will have to choose between pleasing the US public and money. Proposals from European cities are more likely to be used as leverage with San Francisco to come up with a better deal.

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